Your body’s ability to move, blink, chew, blush, digest, and many other important things is due to how your muscles function in just about every part of your body. Three different muscle types help to provide function throughout your body: skeletal muscles (attached to your bones), smooth muscles (found in your organs), and cardiac muscles (found in your heart).
One area of muscles incredibly necessary for supporting organs in your abdominal and pelvic region is known as your pelvic floor. It’s a major part of your digestive and sexual health, and complications with these muscles create difficult and embarrassing problems to deal with.
If you live in the Hagerstown, Maryland, area and you’re having problems with your pelvic floor muscles, Dr. Christopher Clark and the skilled experts at Premier Spine and Sports Medicine can help. Our team can help you through your symptoms and work with you to retrain your muscles for improved function and better health.
To understand your pelvic floor muscles better, let’s examine what they do, what happens if something goes wrong in that area, and what you can do to use them correctly.
What do pelvic floor muscles do?
Your pelvic floor muscles are part of the core muscles that work in your deep abdomen, back, and diaphragm to both support your spine and control abdominal pressure. The layers of muscle and tissue that make up your pelvic floor stretch between your pubic bone and your coccyx (tailbone), and rests like a hammock underneath your pelvic organs.
This means supporting your genitals, bowels, bladder, urethra, and anus (as well as the prostate for men and the uterus in women). These muscles help keep your anus and urethra firm, assist with proper sexual function, and help control your bladder.
What happens if pelvic floor muscles stop working properly?
You can experience problems in this area as a result of a traumatic injury, pregnancy, overusing your muscles (going to the bathroom too often or pushing too hard when you go), having pelvic surgery, being overweight, or muscles weakening with age. These issues can lead to conditions like:
- Urinary incontinence
- Fecal incontinence
- Overactive bladder
- Lower back pain
- Erectile dysfunction
- Painful sex
Because of the embarrassing nature of many of these conditions, they are often underreported. For example, only 17% of people dealing with urinary incontinence seek out medical help. Any of these conditions can affect not just your pelvic floor, but your overall mental well-being as it regards personal relationships, work activities, and your social life.
How do you use your pelvic floor muscles correctly?
There are some basic ways of testing how well your pelvic muscles are doing. Try this: the next time you have to urinate, start to go and then stop. When you do this, you’re relaxing and tightening the muscles that control the flow of urine—a part of your pelvic floor muscles. This can help you gauge how well you’re controlling those muscles.
If you’re dealing with the muscles being either too tight (hypertonic) or too loose (hypotonic), there are different regimens for managing each type of problem:
Quick flick Kegels are great for bladder control. These exercises require quick contractions to help activate muscles faster and stronger to prevent leaks that can come with sneezing and coughing. Heel slide exercises help stimulate pelvic floor contractions while strengthening deep abdominal muscles, and marches (toe taps) help increase core stability.
The Happy Baby Pose is a great choice for stretching and releasing to help loosen tight muscles, and diaphragmatic breathing helps the relationship between your diaphragm and pelvic floor. It’s also a great exercise to reduce stress.
Lunge squats and swiss ball squats are also good exercises for strengthening the muscles in your pelvic floor.
If you’re experiencing any of the conditions listed, it’s time to get help. Make an appointment with Dr. Clark and Premier Spine and Sports Medicine to get those muscles working properly again. Call our office or book an appointment online today.